Wendy Judith Cutler, MA, is a teacher, writer and lesbian-feminist who has taught Women’s Studies and Writing for more than 30 years. She has been involved in feminist, leftist, social justice and queer politics, community-building and culture for many decades. She was a contributor to The Coming Out Stories, is noted in Feminists Who Changed America; 1963-1975 and has writings in numerous publications. Through WomenWriting, she facilitates journal writing and memoir workshops and circles. She relishes the opportunity to inspire women to honour the wisdom and power of their own words. Her memoir-in-progress is about lesbian-feminism in the 1970s entitled Memoir of an Undutiful Daughter.
I have been writing in a journal since getting a diary as a present as a young girl. When I was nineteen and began to read the diaries of Anais Nin and the memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, I began my obsession with writing my life. Since then, journalwriting has been essential to my life, supporting, nourishing, affirming and grounding.
As I entered into feminism, sexuality and sexual expression and political activism.
As I lived and worked collectively with other women and embraced socialist-feminism and radical activism and movements for radical social change.
As I fell in love with my best womanfriend and came out as a lesbian, which forever shattered closeness with my parents and was rejected by my mother, and later my brother, and later as she fell in love with our closest friend and I was heartbroken.
As I protested against wars, inequality, sexism, racism, discrimination and oppression and invisibility.
As I discovered my lifelong passion for teaching, first in graduate school and then into community colleges and the university position-of-my-dreams in a women’s studies department, encouraging students to first write for themselves, incorporating journals into every course I taught.
As I continued to keep journals for my classes, political activism and my self, as notes for classroom discussions, lectures, films, speakers, small groups to record meetings, drafts for articles, letters, leaflets, posters, position papers, essays, research projects, grant applications thesis and (incomplete) dissertation.
As I documented the feminist movements of which I was a part.
As I experienced my next devastating heartbreak after living and loving together for years and subsequent romances, affairs, hoped-for relationships, rejections, unrequited loves.
As I fell deeply and completely in love in first a long distanced love and then uprooted myself and moved northward to another state and a new life with my lover-girl life partner.
As teaching became my life’s work and I endlessly taught, read and responded to students’ papers, wrote comments and kept writing in my journals and We’Moons and drawing tarot cards and keeping track, keeping sane, keeping connected to me.
As I integrated and navigated this journey of being alive and being aware and putting the words down one after the other.
My collection of journals resemble my eclectic wardrobe, the clothes I wear, with a variety of sizes and shapes, colours and even styles of writing. For instance, I hate lines, except when I’d write for classes I taught and hate blue ink (don’t ask me why) and have begun, over the last few years, to print instead of handwrite. My handwriting became so difficult to read (even for me) since I had written so quickly, due to so much writing, that printing just gives me somewhat more control and, most of all, I like the way it looks on the page, which is important, after all.
And now, even as I call up these memories from the past I am writing in this journal with the pink iris on the cover by Amarah Gabriel, an artist who lives on this island whom I know as a sister-artist-activist and who once took one of my workshops.
As I began to write I had just returned from a dog walk with Rosey dog, after talking on the phone with one of my closest womenfriends who lives far away, and then I was listening to a discussion with the writer and director of a recent documentary on illegal, invisible “dirty wars” on Democracy Now and building a fire in the woodstove to try to get warmer, interrupting an altercation between Rosey and Iris Kitty, knowing that I am taking time for myself.
As I come to the end, which is only an interruption.
As I have the next things “to do” like washing the dishes, making my bed, checking email, checking the fire, following through with various tasks and plans and projects, checking the time and finally putting an end to this particular sentence with an ending (for now) period.